politicians, politics, Trump

Rally for Trump! But if you get COVID-19, don’t sue!

This morning, as I read about some truly idiotic and offensive things said by Republicans regarding COVID-19 and black people, I couldn’t help but notice that Trump is wanting to “rebuild our nation” by holding rallies. However, because he’s an asshole who can’t admit that he’s handled the whole coronavirus pandemic horribly, Trump is demanding that there be no social distancing or face masks worn. Moreover, his handlers have also added the following statement to his website for those who register to attend:

So… not only can you not sue if you get sick, you’ll also get texts from the orange fuckwad… AND you’ll probably have to pay for them, too. Message data rates may apply, after all.

I’m sure Donald would love for as many people as possible to come listen to him speak. And he’s chosen an interesting day on which to hold his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the city in which black residents were massacred in 1921. It’ll be on “Juneteenth”, a day in which many black Americans celebrate the end of slavery in the United States. But show up without a mask, and don’t expect to have empty seats between you and the next stranger who just wants to “make America great again” and “rebuild the nation”… (Rebuild? I thought Trump made it “great” again… I guess it takes longer than three years of hell for that to happen. He made it sound so easy back in 2016!)

If you get sick or someone in your party dies from COVID-19, don’t be coming to Trump for any restitution! YOU made the choice to be downwind of the fetid hot air emanating from his mouth and rectum. YOU made the choice to get sick… although maybe some of his followers would claim that you need to get right with God so you don’t fall ill. Perhaps if you plan to attend a Trump rally, you might want to check your health insurance coverage… and maybe bring a Bible and do some praying. Personally, I plan to stay home.

Trump is also holding rallies in Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina, as COVID-19 infections continue to rise, probably thanks to all the protesting that has been going on lately over the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. But despite evidence that the pandemic is far from over at this point, Trump wants the show to go on… and he wants people not to take any precautions for their health. To be honest, I kind of wonder if these rallies will have the effect of culling some of the stupid from our ranks. You know… Darwin Awards are still a thing.

Meanwhile, Republican Ohio Senator Steve Huffman, who represents a district north of Dayton, made the news by asking this regarding rising COVID-19 rates among African Americans:

“I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and that makes them more susceptible to death from covid. But why does it not make them more susceptible to just get covid? Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear a mask? Or do not socially distance themselves? Could that be the explanation for why the higher incidence?”

These questions got a quick response from Angela Dawson, a black woman who is the executive director of the Ohio Commission on Minority Health:

“That is not the opinion of leading medical experts in this country. Do all populations need to wash their hands? Absolutely, sir, but that is not where you are going to find the variance and the rationale for why these populations are more vulnerable.”

This is actually very interesting to me on a personal level. When I was in graduate school, I worked as a graduate assistant for South Carolina’s Bureau of Epidemiology at the Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). It was my job to write up the results of the BRFSS– the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System. This system, which is ultimately run by the Centers for Disease Control, is a telephone survey that collects data from states regarding the health of citizens. The questions asked are about certain risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. The data, which is collected in all 50 states, is divided by sex and race. I remember back in the day when I was interpreting the results and writing them up, people of color typically had less healthy outcomes than white people did and their life expectancies were lower. I see not much has changed almost twenty years later.

COVID-19 was obviously not a thing when I was involved with collecting and interpreting data from the BRFSS, but I’ll bet there are questions about it now. The CDC is tracking who is getting sick and how. And unfortunately, it looks like people of color are at a higher risk than white people. This is also true for a lot of chronic health conditions. The overall reasons for the higher rates of illness are ultimately complex, although some of the reasons behind the infections are not so complex. It’s not a secret that people who are not as affluent tend to be in poorer health. It’s also not a secret that people of color are typically less affluent than white people are. When one has less money, one is likely less able to make choices– everything from dietary to living arrangements to work arrangements– that would prevent one from getting sick.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to stay away from most everyone except for Bill, who is also very privileged to be able to work from home. But there was a time in my life when I had to take public transportation to get to work, and my work required that I deal with people directly. I didn’t make much money, so I had to keep working at that job, until I was finally able to make a choice that allowed me to retire from it… and in order to make that choice– go to graduate school– I had to spend money on loans. Not everyone is able to make that choice. Not everyone can live alone, or with just one or two family members. Some people have to share quarters for financial reasons while they go to work every day, taking public transportation. That’s how they pick up communicable diseases like COVID-19. I doubt very much that it has to do with people simply not washing their hands often enough, regardless of their skin color. Although hand washing is VERY important.

The real kicker about this, though, is that Huffman is a physician himself! He worked as an emergency room doctor until he got fired due to his tone deaf comments about COVID-19! McHenry Lee, a spokesman for TeamHealth, where Huffman had a job until yesterday, had this to say:

“Dr. Huffman’s comments are wholly inconsistent with our values and commitment to creating a tolerant and diverse workplace. TeamHealth has terminated Dr. Huffman’s employment.”

Well, good on TeamHealth for routing out a “bad apple”. Actually, I have no way of knowing if Huffman is a good doctor, but I do think his comments were surprisingly ignorant, particularly given that he’s a physician. Moreover, I have been reading in the new Facebook group I joined about Black Lives Matter, that people of color are routinely treated differently by healthcare providers. For instance, they are less likely to believed when they claim to be in pain, and they are more likely to be treated dismissively when they have healthcare concerns. Yes, there are disparities in healthcare delivery caused by racist attitudes… and given Senator Huffman’s comments, I wonder what kind of care he gives to his black patients.

Anyway… another week has passed and I have managed to survive. Things are loosening up here in Germany, and COVID-19 still seems to be fairly under control, particularly compared to in the United States. It does look like my Keb’ Mo’ concert scheduled for November 2020 is being postponed until April 2021… but it also looks like we’ll still be here. At least, at this point in time it does. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have a new president who really does want to make America better for EVERYONE… not just the people who kiss his ass and sign a disclaimer not to sue him. Here’s hoping, anyway…

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Trump

Trump supporters are annoying, exhausting, and non-sensical…

Last night, a college friend of mine posted a negative comment about Donald Trump. He is not a Trump supporter at all, but he has a couple of female friends who love the orange turd. These women, for whatever reason, think Trump is a fuckin’ genius. And they had this to say…

I don’t get it. I really don’t. I posed a question on my own Facebook last night because after reading this exchange, I was just flabbergasted by the nonsense spouted here. People who don’t support Trump don’t deserve government stimulus money that is paid for by their taxes? And GOD sent Donald Trump to us? I’m puzzled. This is a man who lies, cheats, steals, and rapes… and proudly brags about harassing and molesting women. He was sent by God? That just does not compute.

Of course, lots of charismatic leaders hoodwink people into believing in them and following their counsel. God knows, Mormonism is full of such leaders… people like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who married multiple teenagers. I could definitely fall down the rabbit hole of writing about corrupt religious leaders. They’re all coming out of the woodwork right now, anyway, telling cash strapped Americans that they should donate their “Band-Aid” stimulus money to their churches. The funny thing is, from what I’ve read, it looks like the Mormons are being somewhat sensible right now. It’s the fundie Christians who are really doing crazy things. And sadly, a lot of those fools are also politicians, saying things like “there are more important things than living…” which Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick says. Here he is, a pro-life politician, saying that people should risk their lives and health so that the economy doesn’t collapse. What good is a thriving economy to the dead? So much for being pro-life.

This morning, I read another boilerplate status passed around the states by people protesting the lockdowns. Once again, I was left shaking my head at the stupidity…

Once again… the above rant is entirely about money. Sure, the author has thrown in references to church and how important worship is (to those who believe, anyway). And yes, there’s a reference to how evil abortion is, even though the virus is incredibly contagious and has killed hundreds of thousands of people who were already born. Frankly, I would definitely not want to be pregnant right now. It’s too dangerous. But even if I were happily pregnant, there could be an emergency medical situation arising in which having an abortion would be essential. It could certainly be more essential than eating out in a restaurant or buying liquor.

There are many references to “social distancing” in the above post, although if everyone does what the author suggests, social distancing would be a lot harder to accomplish. If everyone goes out and does what the author suggests, there would be a lot of people mingling. And NO, the wait staff wearing masks isn’t helpful in a restaurant. Any human can shed the virus, so even if your waiter or waitress wears a mask, if you’re not wearing one, you can still unwittingly shed the virus to them and make them sick. In fact, you can still spread the virus even if you are wearing a mask. And you wouldn’t be able to eat or drink while you’re wearing one, anyway.

Personally, I think the mask requirement is more about optics than anything else. Viruses are extremely tiny, and they can infect people by accessing their eyes or other open parts of the body that are uncovered. Properly worn masks might help by stopping viruses that are attached to droplets of saliva and mucous, but not all of the virus particles will be. It really takes very little exposure to the virus before a person will get sick, and the viruses can hang in the air for awhile. Many people will not wear the masks properly or keep them clean. What’s more, the homemade masks are made with a variety of different materials, and by people who don’t routinely make them and don’t know what would make them useful. And they will be worn by people who don’t routinely wear them. A lot of those people will be touching the masks, moving them so they can speak, eat, or smoke, and reusing them repeatedly so they can shop without harassment. They won’t wash their hands, either.

I know what the Centers for Disease Control is now saying, even though just a couple of weeks ago, they weren’t encouraging mask usage. I prefer to go by what the World Health Organization says, anyway. That’s an organization that isn’t ultimately led by Donald Trump. I will use a face mask if I have to go in public, which thankfully, I don’t have to do very much at all. But I don’t have much faith that the masks will actually do much to help curtail the spread of disease. They’re more about people looking like they’re taking precautions and avoiding fines and harassment, since a lot of people will not wear, launder, or dispose of them properly. The masks will be inconvenient, unsanitary, and uncomfortable, particularly as the weather gets warmer. And I just don’t think they’re going to do much good, because human nature will win out over common sense.

I think the best thing to do is to stay home as much as possible and practice scrupulous hygiene… but even taking those measures, many of us will probably eventually be exposed, and a lot of people will become disabled or die, whether or not they wear masks. I have to go on our local military reservation soon, because I need to get a vision test and have passport photos taken. Masks are now required on post. I suspect I’ll have to remove the mask, at least for the photos. Then I’m going to come home and resume holing up in the house. It’s boring and depressing, and I don’t want to live my life this way for much longer.

I do realize how lucky Bill and I are. He’s able to do a lot of his work from home. In many ways, it’s been kind of nice having him around. We’re fortunate in that we haven’t experienced financial hardship yet, and we still get along very well. It’s lucky that he isn’t still married to his first wife. And it’s lucky that I don’t have to work with the public anymore to make a living.

Anyway… I guess I’ll go do some housework… maybe walk the dog. At least we have nice weather today.

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healthcare

The flu is not just a more severe cold…

Picture it. Christmas day 2013. I lived near San Antonio, Texas with Bill, Zane, and Arran. Bill’s mom, who also lived near San Antonio, came to our house to help us celebrate the holiday, then went to Houston visit her sister and brother-in-law.

That year, people living in Texas were being assaulted by the H1N1 virus, popularly known as “swine flu”. Several people in Texas, including at least one teenager, died that year of the flu. Bill still had about six months on active duty, so he got a flu shot. I did not get one, because I live like a recluse. We went out to lunch on the Riverwalk with Bill’s high school friend, his wife, and a few other people, one of whom was visibly sick. By that evening, I was sick, too. I don’t know if I had swine flu or some other strain, but given that over 90% of the flu cases in Texas that year were, in fact, caused by H1N1, I am assuming that’s what I had. It was HELL.

The flu is not an illness I get very often, because I seem to have been blessed with a pretty strong immune system and I really don’t spend a lot of time in close contact with other people. But I do remember very vividly how being sick with the flu felt in 2013. First, I suddenly felt like I had been hit by a truck. My muscles ached. My bones creaked. I was exhausted. Then, I developed a hacking cough and a high fever. Next came the vomiting and diarrhea. I spent a solid week in bed, shivering under the covers; the worst day was midway through, when every single swine flu symptom seemed to strike at once. It took me a few weeks to completely get over the flu, which caused persistent fatigue and a lingering hacking cough so severe that I would regularly vomit.

I was blogging in 2013. I see from posts on my original blog, Bill got sick first. He was only sick for a couple of days and was basically functional. I, on the other laid, was laid out for at least a week. By that, I mean I couldn’t stand to be out of bed for longer than a few minutes at a time. It was most definitely NOT a cold. I have had a lot of colds, but none made me as sick as that flu did. Fortunately, all it did was make me miserable for a few weeks. I did not get so seriously ill that I needed to be in the hospital or developed a complication like pneumonia. Some people are not that lucky.

This was actually a doctored version of the meme that’s been going around… This particular version had the punchline that the lesson is not to hang around with your grandparents.

Recently, there’s been a meme that has been floating around Facebook depicting a young, healthy man who skipped the flu shot. He got sick and survived, but his grandmother did not. The meme’s point is that when you get a flu shot, it’s not just for you. Your body fights a dead or inactive version of the virus, which raises your body’s defenses so if an active virus invades your body, it will be ready to fight it off. Then you help develop herd immunity, which makes spreading diseases to immuno-compromised people less likely. Herd immunity is a real thing. It’s very important, since not everyone can get vaccines. Vaccinations are best given to healthy people who have fully functioning immune systems. Very young babies, people with certain health conditions, people who are allergic to components of the vaccines, and some elderly people cannot be safely vaccinated. So healthy people who are vaccinated help protect those vulnerable people from getting seriously ill.

Last night, I ran across a follow up status update about why flu shots are important. The person who wrote the update is a nurse. She’s seen her share of people who have died from the flu and its complications. She explains why, when you get vaccinated against the flu, you’re actually showing concern and compassion for your fellow man. Naturally, I could not resist reading the comments, some of which were shockingly ignorant and snarky. One person wrote this:

I am 100% pro-vaccine. Myself, my husband and our son is 100% up-to-date on every shot that’s available. However. I do not agree with the fear tactic used to convince people to get the flu shot. The flu is just a harsh version of the common cold. Both viruses change constantly. Too consistently for me to trust the vaccine they just made brand new that year. Just because it’s “improved” doesn’t mean the virus won’t change its chemical composition in a few weeks and that vaccine you just took is no longer helpful to you. I’m not gambling on my 5 year old getting stabbed every single year with a vaccine that isn’t highly proven to work. There’s about a 50/50 chance of you still getting the flu after you’ve received the vaccine for it. I might be more willing to go get it if there was evident PROOF of it actually working, just like all other vaccines. But until then, it’s a hard no in this household.

The person who wrote this shares a Facebook account with her husband. Her profile shows that she’s studied to be a licensed practical nurse, although I have not seen evidence that she has finished her studies. She has also worked at McDonald’s, in nursing homes, and at a livestock yard. When people took her to task about her comments regarding the flu, she repeatedly came back to argue, even accusing some commenters of being “mad” that she has the “right” information that she claims she got from physicians. She followed up with a couple of laughing emojis and posted this:

…y’all are really mad because I simply stated that the “vaccine” they provide every year isn’t a guarantee against the flu because it changes as quickly as the common cold and that’s why there’s no vaccination for it. The flu shot is literally a scientific guess as to which the flu virus is that year which is why it isn’t effective half the time. Mad because I used science instead of the fear tactic y’all try to push. Lol

And this:

Obviously you guys only read the part where I said “it’s a harsh version” and the whole 10 of you got your panties in a bunch over it. Good gravyyyy. Lol go get the shot if you think it actually works, but I’m not going to give in the fear tactic of the rare cases of it being deadly. Over 3 million people get the flu every single year, if getting the flu shot actually did anything then the 6 licensed doctors I have spoken too would have said it works not that “it could help prevent you from getting sick”. Vitamins also help prevent you from getting sick. If it was a true vaccine, we would have eradicated it already. But it’s not, because just like the common cold, it mutates too quickly for us to be able to stop it.

And this:

I’ve already had the flu then my antibodies are just as prepared to fight off the mutated version of the flu as you guys are that rush to go get the “new and improved” version every year. It’s pointless to go get the shot when it doesn’t do diddly squat after a few months. Yeah patients of heart disease are also less likely to have a heart attack/stroke if they exercise regularly and eat proper, quit smoking etc etc. I’ve read more articles about severe side effects from the shot than the pros of it. I was also considered “high risk” for pneumonia after I had my c-section for my son. You can catch pneumonia without having the flu. Those two are grouped together on the top 10 list providing no facts/ science to back up the statement that the pneumonia people have died from is directly in correlation to them having the flu. If getting the flu shot actually made any bit of a difference, shouldn’t the licenses doctors I speak to have said something when I asked “how important is it”? I did my research on my own and still went to numerous doctors asking why and if I NEED to get it. Nobody ever gave me actual statistics to back up the claims that you guys are spouting about. The only thing they have ever said is “it can help prevent getting the flu” Mmmmmmm now correct me if I’m wrong- buuuuut licensed doctors tell you which vaccines are adamant that you get and which ones aren’t. Example- flu shot, chicken pox aren’t adamant because it’s not a big deal. Polio, measles, mumps very adamant about getting because they are a big deal. Go ahead and try to correct 6+ licensed doctors with your MayoClinic degree

Chicken pox is not a big deal? Tell that to anyone who has had a really bad case of shingles. I had a mild case of shingles in 1999, when I was 26 years old. It was miserable, and I didn’t even come close to the nerve pain some people get. I was also fortunate enough to make a complete recovery. Not everyone is that lucky. You get shingles (herpes zoster) after having had the chicken pox. The varicella virus lies dormant in your nerves, waiting for your immune system to be compromised. I got shingles after having had facial cellulitis. Believe me, the cellulitis was enough without the “bonus” of shingles, too. I would have LOVED to have been vaccinated against the chicken pox and spared that experience.

I know the flu vaccine is controversial. To be honest, I have never had one myself. It’s not necessarily because I’m unwilling. I live like a hermit and am rarely around other people except Bill, who does get flu shots. But if I were regularly around more people, I would willingly get a flu shot. I am a believer in the science behind flu vaccines, even though I know that they only protect against certain strains of the virus, which are constantly evolving. I do understand the arguments against getting flu shots, and this post is not me trying to tell anyone to get one. I don’t get them myself, and I don’t like hypocrisy. So get one, or don’t; it should be entirely up to you. What I want to address is the idea that influenza is basically like a more severe cold. It’s not. They are different illnesses, and it’s a fact– flu can and does kill people!

Before I became a bored, overeducated housewife, I studied public health, and had a job as a technical writer for the Bureau of Epidemiology at South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. Prior to that job, I worked in Maternal and Child Health, as well as healthcare policy at the same agency. I earned a master’s degree in public health, which is not the same as a medical or nursing degree, but it does expose one to real information about public health issues. The flu is most definitely a public health issue (and on a related note, I really miss working in public health). It was my job to research and write about public health issues and translate data into information accessible to laypeople. So… while it’s been awhile since I was last in the field, I’m not ignorant about the importance of vaccines. The science behind vaccines has been around for hundreds of years and immunizations have saved countless lives.

My first public health boss lost a set of grandparents to influenza. They both got “Spanish flu”, which was a deadly pandemic caused by the H1N1 virus. The Spanish flu struck in 1918 and the epidemic continued until 1920. It infected roughly 500 million people in countries around the globe; between 50 million and 100 million of those who got the virus died. “Spanish flu” was named such because due to World War I, neutral Spain was one of the few countries where reporters were free to report on the spread of the disease, thus giving people the false idea that Spain was especially hard hit by the flu virus. Reporters in other countries were not allowed to report on the spread of the disease because the powers that be were concerned about keeping up morale among soldiers. Consequently, people didn’t realize how dangerous the flu was worldwide– not just in Spain. It spread like wildfire, and sickened and killed a whole lot of people. So much for the evil media, huh?

While most flu usually kills the very young, the very old, or the already very sick, the Spanish flu of the World War I era also killed young, healthy people, making it seem like an especially vicious virus. Years later, researchers determined that the Spanish flu was actually no worse than most other influenza strains. More people died because of the wartime conditions of the day. People were crowded in medical camps, suffering from malnutrition, enduring wartime stresses, and practicing poor hygiene.

Even today, the flu can kill. I remember in 2013, there was news about young people getting the flu and dying of complications from it. Last year, about 80,000 people died of influenza. While statistically speaking, that may not seem like a lot of people when you consider how many people got sick, that’s probably little consolation to those who have lost a loved one to the disease. And even if you don’t die from the flu, it WILL make you miserable for at least a week. There is a difference between the flu and a cold. They have different symptoms. If you feel sick and don’t know what you have, I recommend checking out a reputable public health Web site that will give you a clue as to what impending flu feels like and what is more likely just a cold. Barring that, you could also visit your doctor, although if you don’t actually have the flu, you could be risking exposing yourself by hanging around people who do have it. Remember– medical settings are full of sick people and cold and flu viruses are super easy to share.

This screenshot is from the Centers for Disease Control, which is considered a reputable Web site among most public health agencies. You can find a similar chart on other, reputable Web sites.

It is true that you can get a flu shot and still get sick from influenza. And it is true that you are more likely to die in a car crash than the flu. However, not everyone has the same risks when it comes to getting sick with the flu. If you are around people who are very young, very old, or have compromised immune systems, getting a flu shot is a very kind and considerate thing to do. It helps protect them from getting sick and dying from an illness that most healthy people can fight off more easily. At the very least, please wash your hands frequently and try to stay home if you’re sick. That’s one of the very best ways to protect yourself and others from the spread of communicable diseases. And please, for the love of God, don’t take healthcare advice from a former McDonald’s worker who hasn’t yet finished her LPN degree. Listen to people who know the difference between the flu and the common cold. As for the McDonald’s/livestock yard/nursing home worker, I’m thinking Darwinism might work its magic on her.

So ends todays public service announcement.

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